Desert Travels

June 25, 2008

Well, today is the first and last day that we actually spend the majority of in a bus. First off, I should tell you that I do not play well with others! In fact, of the four of us traveling together, none of us is into this tour thing!!! The only reason that we are part of this tour is that it is the only way you can hike the Inca Trail these days.  Luckily, this is a very loose tour, with only 8 of us at this point. However, one of the other guys on the tour accused the four of us of trying to have an independant travel experience on a group tour. I laughed and laughed and told him that he was exactly right! We didn’t tell him that we came very close to blowing off the rest of the tour and renting a car so that we could go tearing across Peru!  But we decided to stick it out, so….that brings us to todays 7 hour bus ride!
We are heading to Lake Titicaca for a few days of sea kayaking and hiking. Today’s trip started out calmly, with us driving through beautiful countryside. It looks so much like Arizona and New Mexico that I accused Arturo of spiriting us back across the border when we weren’t paying attention. 
The hills are craggy and brown and there are occatillo and yucca plants everywhere. We are constantly dodging sheep, cows, pigs, dogs and the occassionl llama. Little mud brick buildings dot the landscape and women in tall hats and skirts watch over the herds of sheep.
In keeping with the ‘active’ part of this trip, we stopped for a 15K bike ride on the way to the lake. I have bronchitis and cannot breathe, so I rode in the van and watched the others pedaling. Afterwards, we sat on the grass on the side of the highway for our lunch. Omar’s mom made us spaghetti and pork for lunch. (Omar is the guy in charge of our bikes). I tried to entice a local dog with my pork, but he waited until we were all in the van before he braved it. The best part of lunch was this little boy who walked across the field and stood about 100 feet away staring at us. I dug out the chocolate covered raisins they gave us for a snack and asked Arturo if I could give them to him. He said yes, and called the little boy closer. I threw the treat across the ditch that separated us and his face split into the widest grin I have ever seen! I swear his face lit up the whole area and he turned and ran as fast as he could back across the field. It was great!
Now, things are a little crazier. We are literally tearing down a tiny, two lane highway at top speed, dodging potholes, other vehicles and, of course, the animals. Most of the vans occupants look rather green and after our third near-miss involving screeching brakes and swerving, I decided to stop watching th road. In this case, ignorance is definitely bliss!  The sun is setting and we are entering Puno, the city on the banks of Lake Titicaca. If all goes well, this time tomorrow I will be on an island with a local family. Keep your fingers crossed!
Love, Anna aka Mud Butt

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